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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Aug;21(4):616-22. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.05.025. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

The multiple roles of Purkinje cells in sensori-motor calibration: to predict, teach and command.

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Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Neurophysiological recordings in the cerebellar cortex of awake-behaving animals are revolutionizing the way we think about the role of Purkinje cells in sensori-motor calibration. Early theorists suggested that if a movement became miscalibrated, Purkinje cell output would be changed to adjust the motor command and restore good performance. The finding that Purkinje cell activity changed in many sensori-motor calibration tasks was taken as strong support for this hypothesis. Based on more recent data, however, it has been suggested that changes in Purkinje cell activity do not contribute to the motor command directly; instead, they are used either as a teaching signal, or to predict the altered kinematics of the movement after calibration has taken place. I will argue that these roles are not mutually exclusive, and that Purkinje cells may contribute to command generation, teaching, and prediction at different times during sensori-motor calibration.

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